Thursday, March 13, 2008

"The Last Twilight" by Marjorie M. Liu

Dr. Rikki Kinn works for the CDC tracking down nasty viruses in the world's most remote locations. Her latest assignment looks to be an outbreak of Ebola, but there's something not quite right about the scene. For instance, there are almost 1000 dead, all in the span of approximately 24 hours, something unheard of for Ebola. Also, it would appear that those downstream are not being affected, again, quite unusual for the deadly disease. There's also the fact that Rikki herself seems to be a target by at least two different groups; they seem to want her alive, but might just end up killing her afterward. The "why" is what she can't figure out...

Enter Amiri, one of the "investigators" from the Dirk & Steele Detective Agency. He's sent to Africa along with Eddie and Max; these are not your ordinary detectives. They all have rather unusual powers/abilities: Eddie is a pyrokinetic, Max a telepath, and Amiri a shape-shifter. They are sent to "protect" Rikki from whoever it is that wants her, leading up to lots of action-packed sequences. And, of course, romance, as Amiri and Rikki are almost immediately drawn to each other.

This is the 7th story of the D&S gang, and this one is an improvement over the last book. I was worried at the time that Ms. Liu was losing her touch, a very common phenomenon in the world of paranormal series. Perish the thought! This book has all the traits that hooked me on the series, good character development, a strong plot, and a bigger picture, one that's coming into sharper focus all the time. The evil Consortium is back, a major player in this book; the lead "bad" guy, Broker, also explains why time is running out, for all of them. There's an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it speech by Broker that really does have you wondering - is the Consortium as evil as they seem to be? Or are they just determined to survive at any cost? Let's face it - the will to survive can be insanely strong in almost anyone. Imagine if you were nearly immortal and could see the end of the world coming. What would you do to stop it?

The romance between Rikki and Amiri is believable, not overly mushy, very typical for Ms. Liu. I love that her characters don't immediately rush into the physical aspect of the relationship; she gives them time to know each other first. I was thrilled to see Rictor again! I do have to wonder just exactly what he is....

There are more Dirk & Steele books coming out soon, as well as a new series by the author. I look forward to reading them all!

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